IRS phone scams on the rise, local law enforcement warns

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Several Piedmont law enforcement agencies are issuing press releases warning of an increased number of IRS scam phone calls.

The timing with tax season is making investigators worried some people will become victims.

“It’s something that happens all year round but the numbers triple during tax season,” explained Dawn Grosvenor with the Greensboro Police Department’s Watch Operations.

They’ve been fielding five to 10 calls a day since last week from concerned citizens, much higher than usual. “It’s phone numbers we can’t trace back to figure out even where they’re at. So it’s very frustrating and heartbreaking that people could fall victim to this.”

According to the Treasury Inspector General’s website, “Here is what you need to know. The IRS generally first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes and the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer. The IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.”

It says callers who commit this fraud often:

  • Utilize an automated robocall machine.
  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • May know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
  • Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested.
  • Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes.
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
  • Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

And it’s not just phone calls.

Tax-filing companies like Turbo Tax are warning customers about phishing emails.

Some crooks are impersonating tax preparers in order to steal your identity and tax return.

The emails often look very realistic. Delete them, says Turbo Tax, and do not open any attachments.

When in doubt, call your local non-emergency police number or the IRS.

Report the scam.

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